A Final Promotion

In 1968 Joe was promoted to Superintendent in charge of traffic, at Brierley Hill. Further changes to the local force took place in April 1974 with the formation of West Midlands Police. It incorporated Birmingham City Police, West Midlands Constabulary, Coventry, Solihull, Chelmsley Wood, Sutton Coldfield and Halesowen. Joe then moved to the new headquarters in Birmingham, where he was responsible for the traffic and operations for the whole of the West Midlands.

Superintendent Joe Davies. Courtesy of Joe Davies.

He greatly enjoyed his new role which included organising Royal visits to the area, such as the Queen’s visit to open the N.E.C. in 1976.

Joe was on duty on the 21st November, 1974 when bombs were placed in two Birmingham pubs, The Mulberry Bush, and the Tavern in the Town, killing 21 people and injuring 182. Earlier that day he was involved with transportation to Birmingham Airport of the body of James Patrick McDade who died on the 14th November whilst trying to plant a bomb at the Coventry telephone exchange.

“In 1968 I got promoted to Superintendent which included traffic and operations, and then I went to Birmingham as Superintendent in charge of traffic operations for the whole of the West Midlands including Coventry. I did enjoy that job. I had an office with a coat hanger in it because I was operations. The Chief Superintendent in Birmingham in charge of traffic had two deputies, one concentrated on the paper work and never went out of the office, I was the other who was out all of the time with the lads. I did all the Royal visits, planned them all.

I was on duty on the night of the bombings in Birmingham. I had a long day that day. There was an Irishman who blew himself up while trying to plant a bomb in the post office at Coventry, his name was McDade. His body had to be moved to Birmingham Airport to be flown to Ireland for burial. My job was to make sure that the coffin and the people got to the airport. I had about four Midland Red buses to pick policemen up and drop them off at every bridge and strategic place from Coventry to the airport. I was told there was the possibility of a demonstration outside the airport so we used a little side entrance to get in.

We always used Midland Red buses. I had an arrangement with the manager at the headquarters in Bearwood. The buses came out of their depots which were as far afield as Droitwich.

No sooner had we got McDade’s body onto the plane and it had gone, we heard that the Rotunda had gone off. I got my lads in the buses and off we went to Birmingham city centre. The lads went to the Bull Ring and the buses waited at Digbeth. I shall never forget that the Salvation Army with one of their canteens were there as quickly as us, standing in the Bull Ring supplying coffee, sandwiches, all sorts. Some of the bus drivers that day did the best part of 24 hours on duty.

Joe in his old uniform. Courtesy of Joe Davies.

I enjoyed doing the Royal visits. We used to have some fun with the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Aylesford from Packington. He was a marvellous man, but petrified of travelling fast, so we used to frighten him to death on the motorway. As soon as he got wind of a Royal visit he would ask me down to have coffee at Packington, where we would have a quiet chat about it. He knew that I’d got a schedule of times from airports and stations to various places. He would ask if I could give him a bit of an idea of timing so that when he got back to the palace he could talk times. I used to say to my A.C.C. “I’ve been down to see Lord Aylesford today, there’s something going on, no doubt you will hear about it in due course. I don’t know what it is” I found it a bit tricky being in advance of the chief. My last Royal visit was in April 1976 when the Queen opened the National Exhibition Centre.”

This marked the end of Joe’s time in the police, he retired in 1976. He had a wonderful career spanning 30 years, during which he had seen many changes take place. Joe then entered the next phase of life in which he has been as active and enthusiastic as ever.

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